Yesterday evening at the 53rd Annual Meeting of Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA), Colorado’s ski resorts capped a record-setting 2015-16 season with the Double Diamond Awards, where individuals who have made significant contributions to the industry were recognized for their excellence in competition, patrol, instruction, operations, and ski area management.
Industry leaders gathered at The Art Hotel in Denver to recognize ski area employees whose diligence and expertise were crucial in providing a superior guest experience, including snow makers, groomers, terrain masters, ski instructors, and ski patrollers who have distinguished themselves through their great skill and effort. In addition, they celebrated the most exemplary young winter athlete of the year and honored two industry professionals whose dedication has benefited the entire Colorado ski industry. The evening’s special guest was Super Bowl 50 winner Owen Daniels.
This year’s Double Diamond Award winners are listed below. High-resolution group and individual photos of the Double Diamond Award winners can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/1WIhOig. Please credit all photography to Chris Schneider and Colorado Ski Country USA.
Bill Baum, Winter Park Resort / Intrawest
Bill Baum served as General Counsel for Intrawest Colorado from July 2003 through May 2016 and prior to that was Vice President General Counsel at Winter Park Resort beginning in August, 1998. As General Counsel for Intrawest Colorado, Bill has been responsible for legal work for operations at Winter Park Resort, Steamboat Ski Resort, Intrawest Retail Group and Intrawest Hospitality Group’s Colorado operations.
Bill was an active member of the ski industry group that worked with the U.S. Forest Service during the development of the current ski area permit water clause. In addition, Bill has served as a board member of the Clinton Ditch and Reservoir Company for 17 years. Clinton supplies water for a variety of uses – including snowmaking at several ski areas – in Summit and Grand counties. He is a member of the American, Colorado, and Denver Bar Associations.
Mike McCormack, Purgatory Resort
Mike McCormack, Purgatory Resort’s recently retired Senior Vice President of Mountain Operations, came to the resort in 1982, when he was hired as lift operator and quickly moved up the ranks. In 1987, he became maintenance supervisor and was named director of lift maintenance/operations in 1992. In 2000, Mike was promoted to vice president of mountain operations.
Over the years, Mike saw a lot of changes with the advancement of technology within the ski industry and the evolution of the guest experience at ski resorts. Throughout his career, he continually worked to raise the bar by utilizing new technology, making improvements to the snowmaking infrastructure, grooming equipment, and chairlift mechanics, enabling the resort to create a longer ski season with more consistent conditions and deliver a better overall ski product to guests.
Spencer Nelson All-Star Athlete of the Year
Cole Puckett – Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Cole Puckett is an incredibly well rounded athlete. He balances his off-season ski camps, high school soccer, and ski dry-land responsibilities while still maintaining an excellent academic GPA of 4.0. Cole was one of the only freshmen in his class to compete on the varsity soccer team. He is a very supportive teammate, and he puts in the extra work that makes the difference when no one else is looking. This work has paid off in the form of top-five rankings for his age and division in the downhill, slalom, giant slalom, and super-g, and membership in the USSA Under-16 national training group. This season, our award winner competed in the Rocky Central European Racing Project, where he was the top American finisher in the slalom and the second-placed American in the grand slalom.
Ski Patroller of the Year
Román Sanchez, Eldora Mountain Resort
Román Sanchez sets a great example for his peers on and off the mountain. As a team leader on the Eldora Ski Patrol with eleven years of experience, the 2015-16 Patroller of the Year guides his colleagues through daily operations with strong leadership, communication, and maturity. He mentors newer patrollers through experience and his innate teaching abilities. Román also facilitates the young adult patrol program at his ski area, grooming Colorado’s next generation of dedicated, proficient ski patrollers.
Román had a memorable 2015-16 ski season, winning a purple merit star and a blue merit star from the national ski patrol for separate life-saving interventions at his ski area. Off the mountain, our patroller of the year is an international humanitarian and community steward. He’s an active member of a remote mountain community fire department, a veteran of the Peace Corps, and was a volunteer in the international medical response to the devastating 2010 earthquake in haiti. He’s an emergency medicine instructor, bilingual educator, husband, and father.
Ski Instructor of the Year
Debra Greenblatt, Purgatory Resort
Debra Greenblatt is a rock star on the slopes, motivating students and making learning fun. She’s adept at teaching students across two disciplines – Alpine and Telemark – regardless of age or ability. Not only is she a great instructor, she’s a positive and uplifting mentor to other instructors at her resort. She has enhanced the instructional experience for skiers and snowboarders by implementing a “Total Training Package” to create instructional uniformity across four jointly owned ski areas throughout the southwest.
Off the mountain, Debra founded a non-profit to beautify her hometown, bringing local artists and at-risk youth together to serve a thriving arts community and keep juvenile offenders out of detention.
Groomer of the Year
Bill Drake, Snowmass
Bill was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in Aspen. He was first hired as an operator at Snowmass Ski Area in 1988 and left the job in 1994 to help his parents run our family business, the Ullrhof Restaurant located on Snowmass Ski Area. In 2007, he sold the restaurant and Mark Gressett, Winter Trails Manager at Snowmass, was kind enough to welcome him back to the grooming crew. Bill has been spending his winters playing on the cat crew ever since.
Terrain Master of the Year
Tigran Bailey, Aspen Mountain
Tigran has worked for the Aspen Skiing Company since 1996 as a snow maker working with Matt Reader, a pioneer in the snowmaking industry. He learned the art of making great snow when attention to air and water mixed by the snow maker himself was of upmost importance. Creating events like the 24 hrs. of Aspen, World Cup, Winter X. From K guns to fan guns he has worked to understand the peculiar aspects of each technology. To make the most efficient snow possible, the automation of manmade snow is ever valuable as snowmaking progresses.
Snow Maker of the Year
Spencer Rugland, Powderhorn
Spencer has worked at Powderhom for nine years, including five years in the Terrain Park. He has taken on a leadership role and submersed himself in the safety and management aspects of the job while keeping a fun and functional park. Spencer is very creative and progressive in design and execution.